Discount Cruises: Book a Fantastic Voyage


Longing to take a cruise in Polynesia? Bargains abound on the high seas this year, but you have to move fast because they're starting to dry up.

Luxury cruise lines slashed prices to lure cost-conscious travelers who are trying to weather the economic recession. The strategy worked and demand has rebounded, prompting companies to raise prices. So if you want to take a cruise this year, book soon.

Here are five trips to consider:

Atlantic Ocean: A transatlantic trip on the venerable Queen Mary 2 should be at the top of any cruise aficionado's list. Starting in April, the five-year-old ship run by Carnival's Cunard Line (Stock Quote: CCL) will make 48 trips across the Atlantic, each taking five to 23 days.

Six-day cruises start at $1,195 for an inside cabin or $2,445 for a suite with a private balcony. While aboard, you can visit the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, study stars in the ship's planetarium, sip bubbly at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar or stroll the decks of a ship that harkens back to the Golden Age of ocean travel.

Nile River: For a more intimate cruise that will introduce you to the wonders of ancient Egypt, book a four- to seven-day cruise on the upper portion of the Nile. There are more than 200 cruise ships sailing the waters between Luxor and Aswan, including Sonesta's Moon Goddess (Stock Quote: SNSTA) and Nile Sun Travel's Royal Ruby. Both offer five-star accommodations for $450 to $1,300 a trip, including suites with panoramic windows or private balconies. Passengers can visit sites such as the Temples of Luxor and Karnak.

French Polynesia: If you've always wanted to visit the South Pacific, hop aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin. The ship, run by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, offers an informal environment with great service. Passengers can take advantage of the boat's spa, casino and water sports marina. Although 70% of the rooms have private balconies, we recommend the owner's suites, which include butler service. Seven- to 14-night cruises start at $2,395. Two-for-one airfares from Los Angeles to Tahiti are available if you book before April 30.

Antarctica: Looking for a little adventure with your luxury? Silversea Cruises' Prince Albert II is an expedition ship designed to travel around the top and bottom of the world. The ship will cruise near Norway in the summer and head south in November to make regular excursions from Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula. It fits 132 passengers and has a reinforced hull designed to withstand the extreme conditions of polar regions. The Prince Albert II also offers a spa and a humidor stocked with the finest cigars and cognac. Antarctic cruises take 11 to 17 days and start at $8,800. Prices on some trips have been cut by up to 50%.

Around the world: For the ultimate cruise experience, you could circle the planet on a Princess Cruises ship. The company offers a 104-day voyage that leaves Sydney on July 5 and visits 43 cities, including some in New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, England, Italy, India and Thailand. Prices start at $18,000.

Princess Cruises has also planned a 107-day trip that leaves Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January and stops in Panama, New Zealand, China, India, Egypt and Greece. Prices start at $21,500.



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